- And the Indian American community must demand a hate crime investigation of the April 15 mass shooting at the FedEx.
Stop AAPI Hate (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) tracks reports of violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Since the start of the pandemic, AAPI hate have received reports of over 2,800 hate incidents across the United States. Advocates are attributing the spate of violence partly to xenophobic rhetoric that connects the COVID-19 pandemic with Asian Americans. Hate killed Eight when on March 16, 2021 of this year, a gunman murdered 8 people, 6 of whom were Asian women — a crime that is believed to be an anti-Asian racially motivated crime.
Last week’s deadly mass shooting at a FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis struck deeply into the area’s Sikh community after it suffered the loss of four members in the bloody onslaught. Eight people were killed and several others wounded Thursday night when a former FedEx employee opened fire at a facility near Indianapolis’ main airport before taking his own life.
Authorities have not publicly shared any evidence that indicates that the gunman, Brandon Scott Hole, 19, was targeting the Sikh workers. However, on Monday, the Indianapolis police shared an incident report from March 2020 when Hole’s mother reported to officers that her son had made suicidal statements. The newly released document reveals police also found apparent white supremacist websites on Hole’s computer.
The Indian American community must demand a hate crime investigation of the April 15 mass shooting at the FedEx.
“It’s imperative that authorities fully investigate whether this attack may have been driven by anti-Sikh motivations,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, in a statement issued April 17. He noted that the facility was known to be heavily staffed by Sikh American employees, and also noted that the fatal attack comes amid an unprecedented level of violence over the past year against the Asian American community.
“While the Indianapolis and Sikh communities continue to mourn, and as the rest of our country mourns with them, investigators must also determine if this mass shooting was a hate-motivated attack in addition to serving as another example of the plague of gun violence which has beset our nation,” said the Congressman.
The Sikh Coalition also called for a hate crime investigation. “We fully expect that authorities should and will conduct a full investigation, including the possibility of bias as a factor,” said Satjeet Kaur, the Sikh Coalition’s executive director. “Further traumatizing is the reality that many of these community members, like Sikhs we have worked with in the past, will eventually have to return to the place where their lives were almost taken from them,” she said in a press statement.
Between 8,000 and 10,000 Sikhs call Indiana home, according to the Sikh Coalition. Many Sikh families with agricultural backgrounds immigrated from India to the Midwest because of its auto and trucking industries, said Amrith Kaur, the coalition’s legal director.
Hate crimes against Asian Americans in 16 cities rose by 150 percent in 2020, a recent report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino revealed.
Anti-Asian hate is not new. After slavery was formally abolished in the United States, thousands of Chinese people were brought to the country to work in industries such as railroads, sugar plantations, and mining. America’s first immigration law, the Page Act of 1875, unapologetically excluded East Asian women from the country and in 1882, the U.S. government also excluded Chinese men. Those laws were not repealed until 1943, a time that roughly coincided with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt establishing Japanese-American internment camps during World War II. “Anytime the U.S. body politic seems to be under threat and that threat is coming from an Asian nation or Asian people, then very predictably, the United States goes into yellow peril mode and scapegoats Asians,” Ho, a critical race scholar, told TODAY by phone. “The biggest (examples) are around war. The Japanese American incarceration is the prime example.”
Not all instances of anti-Asian violence can be stopped in the moment — nor does the process of healing end there. Instead, individual action should accompany more sweeping changes at the community level with the ultimate goal of addressing the reasons why violence occurs in the first place. I would encourage our Indian community members to report any hate crimes at Stop AAPI Hate website.
Amy Ghosh is a practicing lawyer in Los Angeles. She migrated to the U.S. in 1987 and has been married to a (retired) rocket scientist for 35 years. She has two adult children. Before becoming an attorney, she was a bio-chemist and worked for several well-known hospitals and laboratories. Ghosh continues to be very much in touch with her motherland India and her favorite city Calcutta. She has recently produced a Bengali movie “Urojahaj-The Flight” by highly acclaimed film maker Buddhdeb Dasgupta. Ghosh is continually looking for meaningful opportunity to contribute to the society through her legal and social work.